The popular British Broadcasting Channel program Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary two weekends ago on Nov. 23, setting the record for the largest international multi-cast ever run, and celebrating the show’s anniversary with millions of fans worldwide. Trinity’s Doctor Who Society, who meet weekly, held a special showing of the episode to celebrate the event themselves.
“Everyone was really excited for the 50th anniversary episode, and the fans have been discussing it and who might be in it for several years now,” co-president of the DWS Kelli Hallmark said.
Rumors about the 50th anniversary episode had been circulating for several years before its announcement, with much speculation as to what the writers would do for the momentous occasion. Because of the nature of the show, which follows the story of a time-traveling alien named simply Doctor Who, the opportunity to bring past incarnations of the Doctor from its 50-year history caused much excitement.
The show originally began in 1963, with a hiatus between 1989 and 1996. It began in earnest in 2005 under the watch of Russell Davies. Since then, the show has followed the reign of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Doctors, with the twelfth Doctor joining the show next year. In the 50th anniversary broadcast, every prior Doctor is represented either by their actors returning to the show to play parts, or through digital manipulation. This came as a surprise to many fans of the show, as up until that point the cast and crew of the show had put forth the idea that they would focus predominantly on the modern “reboot” cast.
“It was really exciting and surprising seeing the eighth and fourth Doctors in the episode,” DWS secretary David Herman said.
The 50th anniversary was true to the original broadcasts’ date and was displayed on Nov. 23 all over the world through the use of a simultaneous broadcast on screens across the globe. This simultaneous broadcast led to the show being noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as having broadcast the largest simulcast in the world to date. Because the show aired in many countries, there was much to be done with regards to redubbing and translating the show for its respective broadcast languages, and the broadcast was a very complex, organized feat.
The widespread impact of the anniversary around the world was cause for much celebration and a review of the shows’ history ““ having nearly been let go by BBC many times in its earlier incarnations due to funding cuts. The widely viewed episode was a testament to the support of fans and dedication to the show around the world.
“The big show change was that the futuristic episodes became very popular,” Hallmark said. “Doctor Who had always been written for the purpose of educating children, but now it has become far more complicated.”The Doctor Who Society on campus held a showing of “The Day of the Doctor” on Nov. 24 which included, of course, the showing of the episode as well as Doctor Who-themed snacks and discussion of the show. The meeting drew around 40 fans to watch the episode in the lecture room in the basement of Northrup, and was a meeting of much excitement ““ fans considered what Doctors might appear, as well as what would happen next, as the Twelfth Doctor following this past representation of the Eleventh Doctor by Matt Smith has already been announced.
After the broadcast was over, the club members gathered to discuss not only the episode they had just viewed, but also its nods to past events in the series and affect on what might happen in the future.
“Originally, Doctor Who had pockets of interest from the BBC,” Hallmark said. “It has really come a long way with regards to viewers and the focus it receives from the network.”
Following the broadcast, which is called the Day of the Doctor, the response of critics and fans varied. While it has largely been received as well-loved, the writing of the episode has brought about consideration for how its storyline affects the history of the prior several Doctors, particularly those post-2005. As Doctor Who commonly alters time and history, this shift is not impossible, it simply brought about more questions and scenarios for fans to consider in the future. The Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, who was briefly represented in the Day of the Doctor episode, will begin his role this month during the Christmas special.
The Day of the Doctor was a huge commercial success with regards to its viewership and the set up of the broadcast and fans around the world enjoyed the inclusion of not only the modern Doctors, but also earlier incarnations.
The Doctor Who Society will continue holding meetings next semester on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. in Northrup 040. For anyone interested in meeting with the club beforehand, they gather outside of Mabee Dining Hall at 7 p.m. to have dinner together before continuing on to the viewing.
“We are building from the ground up and doing things on the fly,” Hallmark said. “Anyone is welcome to join us, we have a lot of fun!”